Saturday, October 24, 2015

Movie Review: "Frankenstein" (1931)

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Director: James Whale
Year: 1931
Rating: UR
Running Time: 1 hour, 10 minutes

Henry Frankenstein (Colin Clive) has discovered a way to reanimate dead tissue. He has constructed a body from the corpses he and his assistant Fritz (Dwight Frye) have dug up from a graveyard. When the brain he puts in his monster (Boris Karloff) turns out to be abnormal, it makes his creation unstable and prone to violence. 

It's really fun to go back and watch the old Universal monster movies, especially since I grew up in a household where they were staple of our fun Halloween spirit. "Frankenstein" is based on Mary Shelley's novel of the same name. When we say 'based on,' we mean loosely based on the novel, almost more inspired by. There were many changes made from the book to movie, including the name of the Frankenstein himself mainly done to appeal to 1930's American audiences. In this version Colin Clive plays Henry Frankenstein, a doctor who has made a groundbreaking discovery. He has uncovered how to bring life back to the dead, a task he has become obsessed with over the years almost to the point of madness. Clive portrays this part in a manner where we believe he has actually been driven crazy with obsession and sells his part fully. It isn't until after he brings his creation to life that he discovers his assistant Fritz, played by Dwight Frye, accidentally gave Frankenstein an abnormal brain to put in the creature, played by Boris Karloff. Though Colin Clive has a rather memorable performance and delivers some very memorable and iconic lines, it's the Monster himself that is the one think people remember the most, which his lurching figure, his wobbling stance, and his menacing scowl.

The makeup work of Jack P. Pierce is nothing short of amazing and incredible. His design for Frankenstein's monster has become iconic over the decades and is a look that has become synonymous with the character. It's really every bit as good as any makeup job you may see even today and has held up well even 84 years later. Boris Karloff does an outstanding job in bringing this large, menacing, but also greatly sympathetic and misunderstood monster to life in a performance for the ages. The monster is unnerving when he's angry as we never quite know his next move and whether he will be frightful or fearful. We as the audience feel compassion for the monster when he meets his eventual fate. The setting, sounds, and sights of "Frankenstein," when combined with some stellar direction by James Whale and the aforementioned excellent, unforgettable performances by Karloff and the like, make this a truly wonderful classic film we urge everyone to watch.

My Rating: 9/10
BigJ's Rating: 8/10
IMDB's Rating: 8.0/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 100%
Do we recommend this movie: ABSOLUTELY YES!!!
Two years ago, we were watching: "Saw"

One year ago, we were watching: "Dead Silence"

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